Before my youngest daughter was born, I thought the idea of taking cloth diapers to the hospital was insane. Why on earth would I want to add to my responsibilities, both while I was there and when I first got home? We would, I decided, use disposables while we were in the hospital, and I would change to cloth to bring her home. My two-year-old was already in cloth diapers; there was no reason to put her in disposables once we were there, and in fact it would make things more difficult for me, but in the hospital, why mess with it?
Then she was born. Within a few hours, it became obvious that, thanks to an ABO incompatibility between our blood types, she was jaundiced and needed to be under the lights. Since she was so little—6 lbs, 12 oz at birth—the disposables provided by the hospital were far too big on her, and the tape overlapped badly and scratched her leg as she was left naked under the lights.
Out came the fluff.
The nurses were fascinated, and more than willing to work with us, especially since it kept her comfortable. Any time she was going to be out of the room, I tucked a couple of diapers and a wet bag in her bassinette, and as often as not, she came back freshly changed whether she really needed it or not. As an added bonus, the tinier cloth diapers (Grovia and Little Joey, in particular) fit her much better than the size one disposables, and even the bigger ones did a good job of holding in meconium poop and pee alike.
After a four-day stay in the hospital, waiting for her bilirubin levels to come down, we had a couple of wet bags packed full, and the first thing I did when I walked in the door was throw a load of diaper laundry in the washer; but my cloth diapers were no more trouble in the hospital than they were anywhere else I had used them, either. If I had it to do over again, I would just take the fluff in from the beginning—why not?
If you’re considering using your fluff from your baby’s first diaper, there are a few things I would recommend….
Check out your hospital’s policy ahead of time. Not every hospital is as cloth-friendly as mine. I just questioned the nurses before I sent her out of the room with them, but it was just luck that they didn’t say, “Oh, yeah, you can’t do that….”
Overpack. In theory, you won’t need all that many diapers for your new baby’s first day or two, because he or she won’t be consuming much and therefore won’t be excreting much. On the other hand, there are times when your baby will poop just as you’re fastening a new diaper into place, pee all over the next one as you slide it beneath her, and manage, somehow, to hit the extra clean one that you’ve left sitting just a little bit too close. Plus, you can’t always predict how long you’re going to be in the hospital. I ended up having to send my husband back to the house for more diapers…twice.
Have a variety of diapers to choose from…but not too many. I discovered that Grovia and Little Joey both worked very well for my peanut. BumGenius newborns are a bit bigger and don’t fit well under the umbilical cord stump on my baby—but they might fit just fine on yours! However, if you fall in love with one type of diaper and only have two of it, you’re going to be disappointed.
Be prepared to teach. Most of my nurses—and there were several of them over the course of our stay—admitted that they had never actually seen a cloth diaper in person before. One nurse tried to put a diaper on backwards; most of them couldn’t figure out what the umbilical cord snaps were for. That’s okay! A little time spent educating them now may benefit other moms later.
Be flexible. Even if you have very good reasons for pulling your fluff out immediately, you may not want to use it the entire time you’re in the hospital—and that’s okay, too! Like so many other things in your birthing plan, you may change your mind in the moment or at the last minute, and you need to have the freedom to do that without guilt. A few disposable diapers in the hospital are insignificant when compared to your sanity.
Bio: Emily L. Goodman is a cloth diapering, homeschooling, breastfeeding mother of four from Maryville, Tennessee.
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